The Mythchaser 

11 January 2001

The Mythchaser looks at those wrong ideas about ABC and Thames that won’t go away.

FALSE Rediffusion owned 50% of Thames.

TRUTH Rediffusion owned 49% of Thames. ABC held the majority stake of 51%. Profits were split 50-50 between the two.

FALSE Carlton own Thames.

TRUTH This is being retailed by newspaper journalists at the moment. Granada now own LWT, but Thames lost its franchise to Carlton. Just because Thames productions can still be seen on ITV doesn’t mean Carlton owns Thames.

FALSE ABC Weekend TV broadcast one joint service in the Midlands and the North.

TRUTH ABC broadcast two distinct services with local continuity in differing styles from Birmingham and Didsbury. Occasional joint continuity came from Teddington, but this was the exception rather than the rule.

FALSE Thames was formed by a merger between Rediffusion London and ABC Weekend Television.

TRUTH Thames Television was jointly-owned by BET, Rediffusion’s parent, and Associated British Picture Corporation (later part of Thorn EMI), ABC Weekend’s parent. Both ABC and Rediffusion continued to exist as separate entities after Thames was formed. ABPC held a 51% controlling stake in Thames.

FALSE Thames wasn’t ready to begin broadcasting at first, so Rediffusion had an extra day on air.

TRUTH The new contracts in 1968 began on a Tuesday; Granada sold the Monday to Yorkshire, but Rediffusion did not sell to Thames. Therefore, YTV began early, on Monday, and Thames began on time, on Tuesday.

FALSE Only London has ever had a weekend/weekday split.

TRUTH In addition to the Rediffusion/ATV split in London, there was a split between ATV on weekdays and ABC on weekends in the midlands and between Granada on weekdays and ABC on weekends in the pan-North region (which included the current Granada and Yorkshire franchise regions). This ended in July 1968, although the split continued between Thames and LWT in London.

FALSE ABC was already broadcasting when ATV launched.

TRUTH The first companies were Associated-Rediffusion for London weekdays starting from Thursday 22 September 1955, and ATV for London weekends from Saturday 24 September 1955. ITV spread through the rest of the country, starting with the midlands then the north from 1956 onward.

FALSE The smaller regions once had a weekend split.

TRUTH Only London, the Midlands and pan-North (now separated into Granada and YTV regions) were ever split weekdays/weekends. The regional companies were always 7-day providers in their own area.

FALSE Rediffusion lost its contract to LWT in 1964.

TRUTH The most perpetuated myth, wrong in both halves, thanks to being published in several autobiographies of prominent TV people of the time. Associated-Rediffusion became Rediffusion, London in 1964; Rediffusion became 49% of Thames in 1968; ATV London lost its franchise to LWT in 1968; ATV Midlands became a 7-day operation at the same time.

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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1 response to this article

John 12 July 2014 at 8:20 pm

According to the official IBA historian, ABC had 60% of Thames and Rediffusion had 40%

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